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School Meals and the public domain. ESRC – Festival of Social Science 2007 Cooking numbers and eating words: using data to investigate food, lifestyle and health Leeds, March, 9 th 2007. Mara Miele School of City and Regional Planning Cardiff University, UK. The project .

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school meals and the public domain

School Meals and the public domain

ESRC – Festival of Social Science 2007

Cooking numbers and eating words: using data to investigate food, lifestyle and health

Leeds, March, 9 th 2007

Mara Miele

School of City and Regional Planning

Cardiff University, UK

the project
The project
  • Delivering Sustainability: Towards the Creative Procurement of School Meals
  • Financial support
    • ESRC, Economic and Social Research Council, UK
  • Research team
    • Production: Kevin Morgan, Terry Marsden, Roberta Sonnino, Yoko Kanemasu
    • Consumption: Mara Miele, Tanja Bastia
school meals and multiple dividends
School meals and multiple dividends

“Through creative public procurement, school meals could deliver a multiple dividend:

  • First, more nutritious school food could help reduce diet-related health problems […];
  • Second, more locally produced school meals could create new local markets for local farmers and producers […];
  • Third, a more localised agri-food chain could yield environmental benefits through lower food miles […].”

(Morgan and Morley, 2002)

research design
Research design
  • Whole food-chain approach
    • Production
    • Procurement
    • Consumption
  • Goal: Role of public sector in fostering sustainable food chains
    • How were changes introduced?
      • Catalysts for change.
    • What do you need to make these changes happen?
      • Legislation, partnership, support, etc.
    • How were these changes received by pupils, parents and members of staff?
case studies
Case studies
  • Scotland
    • East Ayrshire
  • Wales
    • Carmarthen
  • England
    • Gloucestershire
  • Italy
    • Rome
    • Piombino
  • Additional case studies
    • London
    • New York
data and methodology
Data and methodology
  • Procurement
    • Five local authorities
    • Procurement officers
  • Production
    • Three to four producers in each local authority
  • Consumption
    • Primary and secondary school per local authority
    • Head-teacher, head-cook, two teachers (e.g. home economics, P.E.)
focus groups with children and parents
Focus groups with children and parents
  • Pupils
    • Primary school, Year 4-5 (9-10 years old)
    • Secondary, Year 7-8 (12-13 years old)
    • Discussion
    • Games: animals and vegetables
    • Diaries
  • Parents
    • Eating and shopping practices
    • Attitudes towards children’s food consumption
    • Opinion of school meals
school meals in italy
School meals in Italy
  • School meals
    • Post WWII nutrients
    • Education
  • Role of organic food
  • Positive benefits
    • Impact of chemicals on children
    • Environmental education
    • Participation
school meals ethos
School meals ethos

“School catering can facilitate a formative, educational and socialising journey that can enable school-age children to get to know each other, compare themselves, while highlighting and stressing that despite their different tastes, inclinations, sexualities and socio-economic backgrounds, they all share the affective problems and the symbolism that underline consumption.”

Rosa Bianco Finocchiaro, coordinator, interregional programme on food communication and education

why is there a need for food education in italy
Why is there a need for food education in Italy?
  • Mediterranean diet
    • High consumption of fruit and vegetables
    • Lower consumption of meat products

Average food consumption in Italy: the Mediterranean components of the Italian Diet (kg per capite per annum)

Source. INEA, L’agricoltura italiana conta, 1995, 1996, 1997, L’informatore zootecnico after EU Commission report

obesity and consumption trends
Obesity and consumption trends
  • Children Obesity (high in Italy)
  • Consumption trends
    • Increased snacking
    • Disruption of family meals
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Section 4, art. 59, law 23, December 1999, no. 488, Disposition on the annual and long-term State budget (Financial Law 2000), Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 302, December 27, 1999 (Suppl. Ord. No. 2227).

“To guarantee the promotion of organic agricultural production of ‘quality’ food products, public institutions that operate hospital and school canteens will provide in the daily diet the use of organic, typical and traditional products, as well as those from denominated areas, taking into account the guidelines and other recommendations of the National Institute of Nutrition. Public contracts for such services will be subject to art. 23, paragraph 1, letter b) of Law Decree, 17 March, 1995, no. 157 and later modifications, assigning primary importance to the quality of the agricultural products to be supplied.”

research sites
Research sites
  • Primary school Perticale in Piombino
  • Secondary school Riotorto
school meals in piombino
School meals in Piombino
  • SIR Eudania
    • Merger of 4 companies in 1992
    • HQ Florence
    • 1250 employees
    • In Piombino since 1987
  • 14 schools
    • Pre-school
    • Primary schools
    • One secondary school, Riotorto
  • Centralised cooking system
    • 900 meals a day
    • 17% ‘special meals’
role of dietician
Role of dietician
  • Provide nutritional guidance
  • Design menus, in collaboration with others
  • Educational programmes
  • Children’s school meals commission
    • Meet 3 times a year
    • Linked to Piombino ‘children’s city’ initiative
    • Children – catering company
    • Provide feedback on menu
    • Improve menus
    • Participation and inclusion in process of change
food education
Food education
  • Sensorial workshops
    • E.g. cauliflower
  • Breakfast workshops
    • Alternatives to milk and biscuits
  • Labels
    • Supermarket visits
    • Learning about label information
what children eat
What children eat
  • All meals have
    • First course (rice, pasta, soup, etc.)
    • Second course (meat or fish with vegetables)
    • Fruit
    • Water
  • Three menus
    • Summer (October and mid April to June)
    • Winter (November to January)
    • Intermediary (February to mid April)
  • Variety linked to seasonality
  • Transition from conventional to organic
  • Decrease waste through
    • Measuring everything
    • Know children’s response to food
Example of school Meals for summer period (from Easter holidays to first half of October) 1th week – 2003/2004

SPECIAL MEALS are provided , with products in substitution for meat (vegetarian), dairy products, tomato, fish, eggs, gluten or flour (for pupils with food intolerance), or with relation to the culture or religion.

Example of school Meals for winter period (from first half of October to Easter holidays ) 1th week – 2003/2004
school meals fees prices
School meals fees (prices)

Annual Subscription: € 18.08 (UK£12.50 )

A) Entire rate € 3.12 (UK£ 2.16) for a meal.

B) Reduced rate € 1.56 (UK£ 1.08) for a meal: for household with annual capita income 0 - € 5,560 (UK£ 3,848) inclusive

For family units with more children in the school, a reduction of 20% above the entire and reduced rate for the school measl is provided.

C) Exemption from payment: for household unit with an annual capita income no higher than € 3,445 (UK£ 2,384 s)

an opportunity for teaching the value of a balanced midday meal
An opportunity for teaching the value of a balanced midday meal
  • Ensuring variety
    • Diaries
  • More than just nutrition
  • Table manners
  • ‘Proper’ meal
  • ‘Mothering’ role of school meals
    • Conference
    • Dietician
an opportunity for learning about the social value of eating with others
An opportunity for learning about the social value of eating with others
  • How children eat
    • One teacher per class
    • Teacher sits and eats with the children
    • Rectangular tables, 8 children per table
  • Role of the cook

“Not knowing who cooks their food has a negative emotional influence on the relationship children have with the food they eat”

Catering company dietician

how do children eat in school
How do children eat in school?
  • Catering company staff
    • Bring the meals in containers
    • Serve (self-service)
    • Clean up
  • Teachers
    • Sit and eat with the children
  • Learning through food
    • Nutrition
    • Socialisation
no choice and equality
NO Choice and equality
  • All children eat the same

“Giving children the choice is a problem”

“If the children are allowed to have only the second course, they put it in bread and then they only have a sandwich; they won’t eat a proper meal.”

(Catering company dietician)

  • ‘Special meals’
    • Appearance